Understanding The Role of The Beard Brush In Attaining Proper And Careful Beard Maintenance
No matter the quality of the brush that you pick up, there are still key things to keep in mind when maintaining a healthy beard. First and foremost, the type of beard product that you use within your beard is critical.
If you are experiencing itchiness or general irritability while growing your beard, this is due in large part of your skin drying out due to your beard literally sucking up all the sebum oil from your sebaceous glands.
Therefore many beardsmen use a products such as beard oils and beard balms, and to a lesser extent, beard butters. These products contain carrier oils, that do a terrific job in providing all the moisture and nourishment is lacking.
You have likely been using or have used carrier oils in the past since they are incredibly common in all natural beauty products such as shampoos, high quality shaving creams and soaps, and even lotions as well.
Carrier oils are derived from nuts and seeds such as jojoba (being the most common of all carrier oils), argan, grapeseed, and sweet almond to name a few.
Therefore if you are just simply using a brush with no complimentary products such as a high quality beard oil or balm, we strongly recommend that you add one of these products to your beard maintenance collection.
Even the best beard brushes will only perform subpar in trying to both make your beard look great while also feel great as well.
Looking At The Different Fibers That Make Up Beard Brushes
Beard brushes just like beard combs and even shaving brushes, come in all different types of fibers. However, generally speaking the most popular beard brush fibers are going to be the following:
- boars hair
Examining each one of the fibers will yield some pretty unique results.
The defacto standard for beard brushes is without a doubt will be those comprised of boars hair. Boars hair prevalence is so wide spread and popular with beardsmen everywhere due to its complementary features to both your beard and beard related products.
One of the unique and advantageous properties of boars hair is its ability to naturally retain oils when the bristles come in contact with them. This natural retention is key to ensuring that that with every stroke of the beard brush, you will get an even coating of oils throughout your beard. This will ensure that your skin and the entire shaft of your beard follicle, both appear healthy and feel incredibly smooth. This will ultimately help to reduce the risk of beardruff and beard itch.
As we eluded for a moment in the previous section, given the tremendous benefits of carrier oils, a brush bristle that can evenly coat your beard will oils, such as one made with boars hair, will always be preferred by fellow beardsmen.
Horsehair, on the other hand, is a bristle type that is starting to make its way back in to men’s (and women’s) beauty products. Back around World War I there was an anthrax scare which greatly reduced the use of horsehair in all sorts of products, including shave brushes, therefore completely irradiating this great fiber from the medicine cabinet.
However since then, we are seeing beard brushes comprised of horsehair starting to take hold.
Horsehair, like boars hair will hold quite a bit of oil when brushed through the beard therefore making for a great coverage of oils along your beard follicles.
But there’s a catch. Horsehair typically is not as rigid as boars hair, therefore making this fiber a bit better suited for men with thinner and shorter beards.
The last bristle type that beardsmen may rely upon will be synthetic brushes. Typically made from a plastic or wooden spokes with plastic nubbed ends, synthetic brushes will cater to the animal conscious beardsmen.
With all the terrific advantages given to both boars and horsehair brushes, synthetic brushes have really struggled to find their way within this corner of the market.
With the key advantage of re-distribution of oils within your beard that you experience with animal hair based brushes, synthetic brushes just simply can’t perform nearly as well. Therefore given this current shortcoming, we have not reviewed any synthetic brushes as part of this review guide.
Just to note:
Whether the bristle is made from boars hair, horse hair, or synthetic, one thing to be mindful of when selecting a brush is the cut of the actual bristles. Optimally you don’t want to have a brush has bristles all at the same length.
The purpose of the offset bristle length is to ensure that with each stroke of the brush every hair is being groomed all the way down to your skin. This is key to further ensure even distribution of oils within your beard.
In addition to the bristle type of the brush, you will want to make sure that you do clean out your brush on a regular basis to ensure long term performance and sanitary reasons.
A good rule of thumb is to simply clean out your brush about once every week or two. This will help reduce the occurrence of tangles with your beard that can lead to breakage and general snagging when using a brush.
A Quality Brush Doesn’t Mean You Can Brush Regularly
No matter the quality of the brush that you use on your beard, whether its a high end boars hair bristle brush or something that was picked up from the corner drug store, its important to keep this simple rule in mind:
Don’t brush your beard more than a few times a day.
Over brushing of your beard will lead to a lot of unnecessary stress on the root of the follicle, of which may cause follicle breakage and of ultimately having the hair completely pulled out as well.
Typically, you would want to brush your beard before you head out the door (assuming you have already applied a beard product to it). The second time you may want to brush your beard is in the evening if required for a special occasion.
Breaking Down The Difference Between a Comb Vs a Brush
When it comes to comparing a comb and a brush, they both are their own unique tools that solve a specific set of challenges.
Typically speaking, a beard comb is going to be optimized for styling your beard. There are a plethora of different types of beard combs available on the market (as we have reviewed extensively here), however, there are a few things to keep in mind if you do plan on picking one up.
Here at Tools of Men, we are huge fans of the Kent 3 pack beard comb. Kent combs are sawcut, hand polished, and are incredibly sturdy. These combs don’t have the pesky micro jagged edges along each tooth like your typical cheap stamped molded combs.
Being that combs are for styling purposes, they pair great with beard balms and waxes as the introduction of beeswax within those products will help keep your beard in order throughout the day.
Lastly, beard combs can also be a good way to train your beard to grow in a uniform direction. Therefore if you might be having your mustache hairs curl up into your mouth while you are eating, or just simply throughout the day, a miniature mustache comb will help train those hairs to go to the sides and away from your mouth.
Opposite of beard combs, beard brushes are really aren’t ever intended for styling purposes. Granted, a beard brush can make your beard of course look great, but its important to touch on this key difference.
When you use a beard brush, its going to give you a much fuller appearance than that of a comb. This appearance of a fuller beard happens due to the varying lengths of the bristles and helping lift up each hair from your face (conversely a comb may matte down your beard a bit more).
Secondly, beard brushes just simply don’t offer nearly as much control as a comb, therefore crippling their styling ability just a bit.
While a comb does help with training your beard follicles, a brush is going to deliver at a much higher performance when compared to a comb on training your beard follicles properly.
So which one should you use?
Largely its going to boil down to a personal preference. For some beardsmen, they believe that a brush may be better if you are in the beginning stages of growing a beard (less than a couple of months) as you can use it to train your beard follicles to grow into the proper direction and give you a bit more fuller of a look.
Of course selection between a comb or beard is not any sort of rule that is written in stone, so simply you will want to decide which one will work out best for you.
A Look At The Most Popular Beard Brushes On The Market
Here at Tools of Men we LOVE data. Therefore when we can try to use it to answer some of the toughest grooming questions, so we went ahead brushed off (pun intended!) our rusty programming skills and got to work.
While this review is only going over 4 unique beard brushes, we wanted to make sure we could at least get an idea of what some of the more popular brushes are on the market and how they stack up to the competition.
Therefore we created this graph to help show what the beard brush landscape looks like as of today (data current as of April 2016):
So we went to Amazon and took a look at all the brushes that we could find that met our set of requirements. Those requirements were as follows:
- Must contain at least 30 reviews
- Classified as a “beard brush”
Now we will be the first to admit that Amazon reviews are perfect. There are indeed companies that do try to game the system by buying positive reviews for themselves while also paying for negative reviews for their competitors.
This is why we set the bar to be at least 30 reviews on any particular item. Therefore when looking at the chart above, those with a larger circle equates to more reviews. Therefore it could be inferred that brushes with larger circles may be more trustworthy given their higher review count.
Secondly, we only looked at products that identified themselves as “beard brushes”, therefore this would filter out brushes that are marketed towards a female audience and ultimately used for a very different purpose.
You may be asking yourself, why Amazon?
Sure we could go out and scrape data from each and every single brush manufacturers site, but that would be tedious and not as comprehensive when compared to the largest online retailer. Our hesitation on going out to every beard brush manufacturers to fetch data was also for a few reasons:
- Negative reviews may be censored by the company
- Not nearly as high of a product population
- Shipping and Handling charges can vary wildly from one company to the next thus inflating the price of the product significantly
- Ratings are not standardized (i.e. 1 – 5, 1 – 100, A B C D, etc.)
How The Reviews Were Determined to Select The Best Beard Brush?
Here we go in and compare 4 very different types of brushes to see which one will deliver the highest performance for your beard. Each beard brush was determined by the following conditions:
- General Fit In Hand – Every hand is of course different, however, what we are looking for here is if the product seems cumbersome or hard to brush in some tight areas (specifically under your nose).
- Brushing Performance – For performance we are looking at how your beard will look once done brushing it a few times and how the oil distribution appears after having it brushed through.
- Peer Reviews – While not weighted as heavily as the other categories, we look at what others think about it around the web. From both a quantitative and a qualitative perspective.
- Value & Bristle Quality – Sure every brush is different, but are you really getting what you paid for. Will this be a brush where the bristles are falling out after a week of use or is it something that will last you for years to come?